“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Connecting in Prayer
Begin your time with prayer and praise.
Connecting with One Another
Explore various thoughts and worldviews on the Biblical tithe, and how it relates (or doesn’t relate) to cultural norms in our contemporary church society. What are some major reasons people resist the concept of tithing?
Growth through Understanding
When you honor God first with your finances, He says He will open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much on you that you won’t have enough room to put it all. God longs to bless you. But first and foremost, God wants to know that you recognize Him as your source – that you fear Him, delight in Him and have faith in Him. When God sees that He is your source, He will fight for you against your enemies. One of the ways we place God first is through how we handle our resources. A common word for this is “tithe.”
While the tithe was instituted in the Old Testament, the principles of the tithe transcend time. One of the principles is found in Deuteronomy 14:23, “You shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.”
Notice that God says fearing Him is a learned trait – so that you may learn to fear the LORD. Just like children have to be taught to save their allowance or they will spend it all, God teaches us to fear Him by honoring Him as Ruler and Owner of all that He’s given us. Another principle is found in Deuteronomy 14:25-26 where God instructed the Israelites to throw a thanksgiving party and eat in His presence and “spend the money for whatever your heart desires.” There is only one reason why a person throws a party when they are giving away a portion of what they own – it’s because they are grateful for the portion that they get to keep. Honoring God through tithes and offerings recognizes His position of authority and as our Provider of all that we spend on ourselves outside of what is given to Him. When we manage our finances this way, it gives us reason to celebrate.
Lastly, God says to bring the “whole tithe” into the storehouse. He is referring to the first fruits, the best of what He has given us. Now I can hear some of your objections already. You’re saying, “But didn’t the practice of the tithe stop when Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament law?” That’s a fair question; however, the tithe was first mentioned in Genesis 14, before the law, with regard to Abraham showing gratitude to a priest named Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20). Hebrews tells us that Jesus came as the high priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” (Hebrews 7:11) and also references the continuation of the tithe in Hebrews 7:8. While the law has been fulfilled, both the principles behind and the Priest over the tithe have continued.
The greatest truth you can learn regarding your finances is that God is your source. Everything else is a resource. Never treat the resource like it is the source because then the resource will control you. Not only that, the resource will get the honor, time and attention that should be going to God. God says when you honor Him with your finances, He will then do things for you that you could never do for yourself. God will turn things around that you didn’t know could be turned around (Malachi 3:7-12).
Growth through Discussion
As you dive into the heart of Dr. Evans’ teaching, use the following questions to generate discussion among your group.
- Describe a time in your life when God “opened the floodgates of heaven” on you. How did that make you feel toward Him? If you have not experience this, what does “open the floodgates of heaven” mean to you? What might you to do to bring about such blessings?
- In Deuteronomy, we come across God instructing His people to eat of their tithe in a celebratory manner at a place designated to bring Him worship. Name a celebration that is used to worship God in our culture today and how we might be more intentional in our celebration with honoring God for His provision.
- In the teaching portion of our lesson, what is our heart and mindset toward God when we honor Him with our tithes and offerings?
- What is the difference between first fruits and all other things in our non-agrarian society? How can we identify first fruits of our resources (time, talents and treasures) to give God? Do you give God first fruits or left overs or a mixture of both?
Now is the time to apply the wisdom of what you have learned to your life, as you express the depth of your relationship with God through service to Him and others.
God is your Source. Acknowledge that truth tangibly this week through choosing to give God something of value to you. It doesn’t have to be money, but let it be symbolic of identifying His ownership over all.
When Abraham gave the tithe to Melchizedek, Melchizedek had come with a blessing and some food. The sharing of food was frequently done in Biblical times as a form of blessing and bonding. This month, seek an opportunity to bless someone with a meal. Invite the person over for a home-cooked meal or bring a homecooked meal to their home or go out to a restaurant.